Photos & Painting of Dolphin Beach Dunes

Christmas holiday trip:

Ada took photos while in Cape Town over Christmas 2016

We spent a couple of weeks there, and had a grand time. Here is what we did on our first outing on the 23rd of December:

Took photo of beach first

Oil painting, size .360 x .287m: Cape Town, Dolphin Beach, with storm brewing over the sea and dunes.

 

 

 

The bird sanctuary near Dolphin Beach:

The weather in Cape Town was windy and it rained on and off before Christmas. So not waiting any longer for the weather to clear, one late afternoon, we went down to a bird sanctuary vlei (wetlands) near Dolphin Beach, hoping to see some flamingos there.

But there weren’t any, perhaps because the water levels were too low. Shame the vlei looked so devastated, due to the long drought we’ve had here in South Africa. We stayed there sometime looking around for bird life. Only a few mallard ducks braved the wind.

Photos of the beach & sanctuary.

Google map of the Dolphin Beach area. Including the dark area (bottom right corner) where the bird sanctuary is.

Photos:

Since I was more interested in our surroundings, I looked for possible photos I could possibly take. With the water table lowered, the `white’ mud of the bog was drying up and sadly exposed a lot trash. We even discovered an old sand-shoe (tackie) and a disposed sun-shield `cap’.

Photos of bird sanctuary

Photo of the bird sanctuary near Dolphin Beach, Cape Town

I love Nature:

But what really fascinated me were the different types of grass and undergrowth. See the photos on this page. I loved the gold of the seed heads against the cool colours of the background. So beautiful waving in the wind! Almost like an abstract.

Photos of grass

Photo of the lovely gold seeded grass at the bird sanctuary near Dolphin Beach, Cape Town.

Then the sand dunes of Dolphin Beach:

After getting back into the car, we went and parked near Dolphin Beach. You can see what the dunes looked like before we toiled our way up and over them onto the beach on the other side.

Photos of dunes

Photo of dunes leading up the ridge before moving onto the beach.

The wind was so strong… it was hard to keep your balance.

I kept losing my sandals in the very soft fine dune sand. This made me waste a lot of time trying to put my sandals back on. With the wind so strong and me losing my balance, I became disoriented. It felt like the sand was unstable and shifting all the time. I said to myself, “Stop this nonsense at once. Leave your sandals off you silly girl and get some decent photos.

Photos of the dunes

Another photo of the dunes before moving up and over the ridge.

It was getting darker all the time because of the brewing storm.

Looking up at the sky I saw how profoundly dramatic and powerful it looked. And added to that, the subtle tints and shades of the sand were so exciting. Well to me as an artistic anyway. This gave me such a thrill, that it stimulated me into thinking, “I must paint this come what may!”

Of cause in those conditions I would never be able to paint it there and then. I didn’t have time to take closer photos of the actual sea, because by then everyone had moved far off and I was left alone to do my thing. So I had no choice but make the best of the moment and take photos of the dunes surrounding me as I stood there warbling in the wind.

Oil painting of the dunes: (see first image on the page)

In reality the sand was so fine and `white’, in spite of the weather and the contrast of the darkening sky! In my photos, the sand is a soft pink light creamy colour. I thought it would be exciting to paint those subtle changes of graduated hues into my oil painting.

As to the composition, I wanted to paint that angry dark sky, in all its glory and power. But that meant reducing the sandy foreground. When I tried that, the composition lost its power somehow. So that is why I landed up with the horizon cutting the painting in half!

You try cutting parts of the composition off for yourself, to see how you would handle the composition. How much sky or how much foreground of the sand would you incorporate?

The contrast of the sky and the sand also proposed a problem. Especially, as the sky looks so dark and blue against the stark `white’ sand. But that is how it is in reality. The stark difference actually gives the painting its powerful attraction don’t you think?! But somehow I had to pull the two dimensions together, so I used some of the blue of the sky and put a little of it in the sandy foreground.

I love atmospheric conditions.

Can you see how the wind was lashing the clouds up in my painting of the dunes and creating that atmospheric dimension in the sky? Maybe not in this photo, but you can in the original painting.

  • Well  I painted the sky and clouds first. Putting in the basics shapes and colours.
  • Then taking a soft shaving brush (or fan brush if you like) and softly drawing the brush through the wet paint of the clouds.

The technique of drawing your brush through your skies a lot of fun and nerve-racking all at the same time. You either get or lose it.

More location paintings that can also be seen in the “Location Adventures” category:

Wildlife & Flowers of the Soutpansberg

Adventure through the Soutpansberg:

The Soutpansberg this and the Soutpansberg that… How many times I had heard that word during my childhood. Like is was a fantastic place. Then I had a chance to go there. I must say springtime is the best time… to go there!

Soutpansberg mountains

A5 watercolour: Late afternoon view of the Soutpansberg mountains

The Soutpansberg is found in the Limpopo area, of northern Transvaal, South Africa.

Our eldest daughter took my husband and myself to the Kruger National park more than ten years ago and instead of going straight home to Johannesburg, we detoured back home through the Soutpansberg.

Soutpansberg is in Limpopo

Map of the Limpopo province of Northern Transvaal, South Africa

One of the places we visited was the Spring Festival in Haenertburg.

Not only did we see the flowers, arts and crafts at the hotel and beer garden marquees, we also spent a lot of time at the Cheerio Gardens.

Spring time in the Soutpansberg

Photo of poppies at the Spring Festival.

The Cheerio Gardens are so beautiful.

You’ll find mass of azaleas there, nestling between trees and around ponds. The tranquility of the stream running through the farm and its vegetation brings peace to the soul. It’s a ‘must see’ place to go to.

To see what more the place offers, check out http://cheeriogardens.co.za/

Azaleas at Cheerio Gardens, Soutpansberb

A5 watercolours of Azaleas in the Cheerio Gardens farm.

The Soutpansberg climate:

  • Summer time: 340-2000 mm rain and temperature 16-40°C
  • Winter time: Dry weather and temperature 12-22°C

Rock art & archaeology:

  • The rock art consists of engravings and paintings: found mainly in the western section of the mountains.
  • Archaeology: Evidence of early Stone Age up to the late Iron Age.

Culture & natural talent:

Potters, drum makers, bead workers and dressmakers

Nature reserves in the Soutpansberg:

There are many nature reserves in the Soutpansberg. The following list of wild animals and wild life may vary according to each reserve. So check out what you want to see before booking into a reserve.

  • The big five: Elephants, rhino, lions, leopards, wildebeest
  • Buck: Kudu, impala, eland, waterbuck, gems buck, sable, nyala and roan antelope
  • Other wild animals: Warthog, bush pig, hyena, wild dog, buffalo, giraffe, crocodile and hippo
  • Also: Indigenous birds, reptiles and fish.

Have you ever been to the Soutpansberg?

Just pop your comment in the comments block at the bottom of this blog post. Love to hear from you.

Want to see more paintings and places in South Africa?

Click on the two categories below. They are found in the left sidebar of any one of the menu pages you click on:

Wild Natural Reserve Painting

Wild open space behind our cottage:

Ever wanted to have a wild open space behind your house? We did.

When we first came up to the Transvaal in 1980, from Durban, we stayed in a small village south of Johannesburg. During the time we were there we had temporary accommodation in a cottage at the bottom of Kibbler Park.

Wild natural reserve

A5 watercolour: Cattle grazing area, near the Klip River, Eikenhof. south of Johannesburg.

Wild life at the bottom of the garden:

Beyond the fence, behind the cottage, there was a wide open space where we often took walks. Even though it was set aside as a natural reserve, it wasn’t attended by the parks board or by the Eikenhof municipality. So it was completely wild, with long grass, weeds and wild flowers.

We enjoyed watching the weaver birds busily nesting in the tall reeds and willows bordering the river. Along that section of Klip River, there were so many reeds you couldn’t even see the river or get close to it. You could only hear the water as it passed through the reeds. Been in the wilderness, in all its wild state, it’s so invigorating. Especially for me! I suppose been an artist I see beauty all around me.

I love been in wild places where you feel like no one has been there before. You have the privilege of soaking it all in, without the sound of cars switching by or hooting.

The atmospheric conditions at sunset are truly amazing. You watch the sun go down over the horizon and its rays creating halos on the grass seeds.

If you keep still and absorb the existence of wild life around you, you can hear the bees humming. And if you look closely at the little wild flowers hidden in the thatch grass, you’ll also discover little creatures going about their own lives. Gosh, I really enjoyed showing my children this underworld of activity. How many of us take time out to really observe what is around us, let alone what the ‘little people’ are doing?!

Wild natural reserve

Photo of the grazing area, that I painted from.

Our Eikenhof scene:

One day I went a little further and came across this scene in the photograph. Here the grass was thinned out because it was wintertime and a cattle grazing area, away from the river.

  • Photos don’t really capture the true essence of a scene. And as artists it would drive us mad if we tried to put in every detail we saw in photos, or try to reproduce exactly what God so cleverly created.
  • It is our job then, to translate what we see, according to our observations and abilities. During location fieldwork, our creativity of the scene tends to take on its own presentation. Often it’s because you can’t judge a colour. Because the sun is too bright to evaluate the true shade or tint. Also the wind gives you so much hassles, that you work quickly in your endeavour to work with fluidly.

So as it turns out:

You do your best outdoors, splashing paint on; in the hopes you captured things okay. And then go home to do adjustments where necessary in more favourable light conditions. The results are something else; your interpretation.

To hang how your painting turned out. The whole point of the exercise is to enjoy the outing. Life is to enjoy. And been out in Nature’s cradle is the best part.

If You would like to see other paintings of places I have been to,

  • Check out the ‘Location Adventures’ and ‘Photo Demos’ category, in sidebar of one of the pages on this site.
  • The Road to Drakensburg Gardens, Natal South Africa, tells of the time when I did my first location oil painting and my start of doing location fieldwork.

Road to Drakensburg Gardens

Location adventures:

The road to Drakensburg Gardens was the start of my I love for doing location work. Doing fieldwork is like going on an adventure. You never know who you’ll met or what you’ll see around the next corner, in the most unexpected places.

Alongside the road to Drakensburg Gardens

A5 watercolour: Winter time. The river alongside the road to Drakensburg Gardens, Natal, South Africa.

This blog is about the time spent in the Drakensburg years ago.

When our children were young, we often visited my parents during the time they lived near Sani Pass. Their house was situated on the main road into Himville. And their lounge had a fantastic panoramic view of the Drakensburg mountain range. Every afternoon you could witness the dramatic brewing of clouds and impending storms garthering over the expanse of the berg.

Can you believe it; my father at the age of eighty had built that house, including its large underground reservoir, out of bricks he had made himself! The house had an ingenious heating system. Shame, they went through such hardships to complete that house.

My sister also lived in Himeville at the time, in the house they built themselves as well. Their house wasn’t on the main road.

So it goes without saying, we had many a happy time with family gatherings. Going for walks, picnicking and swimming in rivers together! I remember a time when our girls had fun making mud pies and dressing up in old clothes.

Location experiences there:

My first oil painting was done at my parent’s dining room table. Looking down the street of Himeville, I did a location painting of a house behind a tall hedge. I still laugh, even today… In my painting, the roof of that house looked like a hat sitting on the hedge! Yes you are allowed to laugh.

Most people would have given up there and then. But then, I’m not everyone.  I’m plain stubborn. I still continued to persist in painting! Guess one learns a lot through each and every experience.

When the family went picnicking, ten to one, I would be taking photos of the scenes round about or do location work while they were frolicking in the nearby stream.  Other times we went for country drives just for the fun of it, and out would come my old fashioned camera.

Along the road to Drakensburg Gardens:

The photos and paintings in this blog:

  • The first were of a time when my father went with me, to see what I could find along the road to Drakensburg Gardens to paint. Sorry that the photos you see here, are rather blurry. They are very old photos. And the watercolour painting is an old one too, done about 1974. As to Drakensburg Gardens, it is a tourist resort, see map of the area provided.
Road to Drakensburg

Drakensburg Gardens. Beautiful place isn’t it!

  • And the second lot was from a time when my sister and her husband took us to see a farm along that same road to Drakensburg Gardens.
Huts on a farm, road to Drakensburg Gardens

A5 watercolour, painted later from a photo: Round huts on the farm we visited.

 

The watercolour of the round huts (called rondawels) was painted from the scene we came across in a clearing surrounded by eucalyptus trees, on the farm we visited with my sister. I presume the huts were for staff or used as a storeroom for farm equipment.

We were also shown the spot where the farmer’s family used to enjoy swimming down by the river. Can you spot the farmer’s pet dog down by the river in the photo? In the old days we didn’t have cameras that took panoramic scenes! We would have to join them to get panoramic views.

Road to Drakensburg

Joined-photo, taken of a stream running through their farm

Afterwards, the farmer showed us his dairy herd of black and white Friesland cows. I will never forget how large and magnificent that bread of his was. They seemed to tower above us as they passed us on their way through, into the milking parlour!

Results of my Drakensburg experiences:

Sorry I can’t show you more of the paintings I did in those days we spent in the Drakensburg Mountains and surrounding area. They were sold in a gallery, in Pine Street, Durban, Natal.

Even though I’ve moved since then from Durban, I guess my love of doing location fieldwork started way back then in the days that my folks lived in Himeville.

Oh what fun I’ve had:

To find scenes to paint I’ve been willing to climb down into rocky gorges, through fences and over boulders in my endeavours to trail through streams or venture along seashores. Not to mention the thrill of walking through forests and climbing up steep rocky hillsides to get a better panoramic landscape views. (Of cause I have a much better camera today).

You can have these types of adventures too, if you are willing to` go the extra mile’ and ‘do your thing’. No one ever experiences anything without making the effort, no matter what you have to do to achieve what you’re most passionate about.

Watch Wild Birds: Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Want to watch Wild Birds? You will find lots at Marievale Bird Sanctuary.

Where is Marievale Bird Sanctuary?

Marievale bird sanctuary is south-east of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is nestled between goldmine dumps and the town of Nigel, situated north-east of the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. The entrance to Marie vale Bird sanctuary is free!

Watch wild birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

A5 watercolour: Some of the wild flowers in the grasslands area of Marievale Bird Sanctuary.

What’s so nice about the place is that it is so quiet and peaceful there. It’s a place you’ll want to spend the whole day there, from early morning to late afternoon. Bird-lovers will really appreciate this natural sanctuary. There are so many birds to watch out for with your binoculars and notch up your found-bird lists during spring and early summer.

Picnic spot provided:

No busy restaurants, just pure nature all around you. Great place for family picnics in the designated picnic area. Take out your table clothes, blankets and cushions, take a snooze or quietly watch the water for bird life.

Watch wild birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo taken from Picnic spot.

Wetlands and dams:

There is a river going through the reserve, but basically it’s a wetland area with two dams. There are lots of birds, big and small; chirping and going about their particular business, flying here and there or swimming in and out the reeds, and some birds just keep very still while they watch for possible tiny fish in the water or grubs in the mud.

Watch birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo: Folks checking out bird activity.

Watch birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo: Now what is he looking at?

Buck and wild flowers:

As you go along further into the reserve, exploring the little back roads, you go over quant long-lying bridges into more grassland areas. In some places near the mine-dump side of the reserve you’ll need a four-by-four vehicle in rainy weather.

Don’t rush in the grassland area. Take time to observe the wildlife. Watch out for buck and all sorts of tiny wildlife. In the spring there are beautiful fields of wild flowers waving in the breeze. Oh such beauty and tranquillity, you’ll forget there are busy towns and the hectic lifestyle of Johannesburg city just a few miles away. Marievale is the sort of place where you’ll want to go to unwind!

Watch birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo: Red Bishop weaver bird.

Want to know and see more?

  • For further information on the sanctuary and a google map, go to http://www.sa-venues.com/game-reserves/ga_marievale.htm
  • And if you want to see and read more interesting places I’ve painted, go to the  Location Adventures’ category listed on one of the menu pages.

Wildlife in Waterberg: Mabalingwe

WILDLIFE IN THE WATERBERG:

Mabalingwe Nature Reserve is northwest of Pretoria, in the waterberg area. It is along the road west of Bela-Bela. Bela-Bela was previously known as Warm Baths, for its warm springs.  Mabalingwe is a fascinating place.

A5 watercolour: Do you see those rocks, they are actually hippos sleeping in the warmth of the midday!

A5 watercolour: Do you see those rocks, they are actually hippos sleeping in the warmth of the midday sun!

There is so much WILDLIFE to see and do at Mabalingwe:

  • Mabalingwe Nature Reserve has the `big five’. On certain days a guide takes you on a game-drive-vehicle to an enclosure and up a stone tower to view the lions feeding. But you must book ahead of time to see the lions feed.
  • The elephants are known to cross over the Mabalingwe property on their way through to other game reserves in the Waterberg area.
  • There’s plentiful wildlife that can be seen along the many game-drive roads crisscrossing the vast property. There are Guinea fowls, squirrels, giraffe, Zebra, different types of buck and even a huge leguaan (lizard) to mention a few.
  • There are dams on the nature reserve, where you can watch wild birds and hippos.
  • Talking about hippos, if you park your vehicle at midday you may see hippos sleeping in the warmth of the day along the stream, near north dam area. At first you may think they are stones in the water across the stream in the mud. But when you look again more carefully, you suddenly realize the rocks are actually hippos! I thought painting the hippos sleeping in the water would serve as a visual hoax. See my illustration! Don’t you agree those rocks in my landscape painting look like rocks in the stream?!
  • Warthogs (wild pigs) roam the lodge area, hoping humans will feed them. They seem tame, but remember by nature they are still wild animals, so be cautious. You can also find them foraging at the side of the tarred road near the main entrance and airfield.
Wildlife in Mabalingwe Nature reserve

Photo of lions feeding at Mabalingwe Nature Reserve

Wildlife in Mabalingwe Nature reserve

Photo of a Kudo buck in the Mabalingwe reserve.

Photo of Warthogs foraging besides the road, near the entrance of the reserve.

Photo of Warthogs foraging besides the road, near the entrance of the reserve.

 Other Mabalingwe attractions:

Wildlife in Mabalingwe Nature reserve

Photo of birds nests in the Mabalingwe reserve trees.

Wildlife in Mabalingwe Nature reserve

Photo of the stream in the Mabalingwe reserve. Beautiful hey. Could make a lovely big oil painting don’t you think!

If you go to their website http://mabalingwe.co.za/

You will see they have wonderful lodges to stay in.  Their ambiance is so romantic set in the bush. There is a tea room for campers near the pool on the south side and a restaurant up by the booking offices. There is also a swimming pool up on the hill, surrounded by some of the lodges. The centre also provides accommodation for seminars.

To see more interesting South African places and wildlife: check out the Location Paintings page and category.

Lion Park: Krugersdorp South Africa

Krugersdorp Lion Park

Have you ever been to the Krugersdorp Lion Park? It is on the west Rand, in the Transvaal of South Africa. The park is open between 8am and 6pm, and there are a variety of things to see, including four of `the big five’, at very little cost.

Lion park trees

A5 watercolour: When you go to Krugersdorp lion park, just for fun, see if you can spot this clump of trees!

What you can see:

  • The terrain of the park is restful and beautiful in its natural state. To bird watchers it’s a haven with their cameras or binoculars.
  • You can wonder along rural roads viewing wildlife and see interesting ruins. There’s also a separate lovely big braai and picnic area where the whole family and friends can spend the whole day if they wish.
  • The wildlife in the greater part of the park ranges from rhino, hippo, giraffe, buck, zebras and mongoose colony, to wild birds housed in a walk through aviary opposite the ruins.
  • The lions are kept in a huge (100-hecture fenced off) part of the park. Besides the normal viewing, you can watch the lions feed on Sundays between 10am and 11am.
  • There is also lodge accommodation and a conference centre. From the centre parking you can see a waterfall in the distance.
Photo of a wild bird in the lion park.

Photo of a wild bird in the lion park.

Photo of part of the lion park.

Photo of part of the lion park.

One of the roads going through the lion park.

One of the roads going through the lion park.

The ruins opposite the bird aviary.

The ruins opposite the bird aviary.

Bird aviary in the lion park.

Inside the bird aviary in lion park, opposite ruins.

Lioness in the lion park.

This photo of the lioness was taken late in the afternoon.

Safety warnings:

  • It’s important that you keep your windows of your vehicle closed while travelling through the lion’s enclosure. Strangely, lions see vehicles as one big shape (you are included in the shape) but the moment you move and make a noise (even a small noise) they begin to see you within the shape as prey. There are two guarded gates (in and out) of the enclosure to ensure you are recorded as entered and left the enclosure safely.
  • You mustn’t get out of your car, walking is strictly prohibited. But horseback safaris or viewing on mountain bikes is possible in the general park area, if you book in advance.
Mongoose in the lion park.

The mongooses were very friendly, hoping for tip-bits to eat.

Zebra grazing in the lion park.

Zebra grazing in the lion park.

Buck in the lion park.

Buck in the lion park.

If you want to know more about the Krugersdorp lion park check out:

http://www.joburg.co.za/category/outdoor-and-adventure/reserves-and-parks/

Directions to Krugersdorp Game Reserve:

From Krugersdorp, travel towards Rustenburg on the R24. The game reserve is on your righthand side of the road.

Note: It is a few years since the photos in this blog were taken within the lion park.

More blogs on South African scenes  to be seen in Location Paintings category.